January 20, 2013

Masterclass of Dr. Pasi Sahlberg at KPZ

Last Friday January 18. 2013 Dr. Pasi Sahlberg, Education change activist, General Director of CIMO in Helsinki and autor of the book 'Finnish Lessons' gave a masterclass at our University KPZ.

"Ten years ago Finland was ranked as the world’s top education nation. It was strange because in Finland education is seen as a public good accessible to all free of charge without standardized testing or competitive private schools. When I look around the world, I see competition, choice, and measuring of students and teachers as the main means to improve education. This market-based global movement has put many public schools at risk in the United States and many other countries, as well. But not in Finland.
You may ask what has made Finland’s schools so extraordinary. The answer has taken many by surprise.

1. The Finns have never aimed to be the best in education but rather to have good schools for all of children. In other words, equity in education comes before a ‘race to the top’ mentality in national school reforms.

2. Finns have taken teachers and teaching seriously by requiring that all teachers must be well trained in academic universities. All teachers should enjoy professional autonomy and public trust in their work. As a consequence, teaching has been a popular career choice among young Finns for three decades now. Today the Finnish government invests 30 times more in professional development of its teachers and administrators than testing its students’ performance in schools.

3. Finnish educators have learned systematically from other countries how to reform education and improve teaching in schools. The United States has been a special source of inspiration to Finland since John Dewey a century ago. Such American educational innovations as cooperative learning, problem-based teaching and portfolio assessment are examples of the practices invented by teachers and researchers in the United States that are now commonly found in many Finnish classrooms.

One thing that has struck me is how similar education systems are. Curricula are standardized to fit to international student tests; and students around the world study learning materials from global providers. Education reforms in different countries also follow similar patterns. So visible is this common way of improvement that I call it the Global Educational Reform Movement or GERM. It is like an epidemic that spreads and infects education systems through a virus. It travels with pundits, media and politicians. Education systems borrow policies from others and get infected. As a consequence, schools get ill, teachers don’t feel well, and kids learn less".

International Office


Raf Feys said...

Finnish miracle: fata morgana?
Finnish students’ achievement (15 y) declined significantly: study of University Helsinki
University of Helsinki - Faculty of Behavioral Sciences, Department of Teacher of Education Research Report No 347Authors: Jarkko Hautamäki e.a. Learning to learn at the end of basic education: Results in 2012 and changes from 2001
S.: The change between the year 2001 and year 2012 is significant. The level of students’ attainment has declined considerably: under the mean of the scale used in the questions. The difference can be compared to a decline of Finnish students’ attainment in PISA reading literacy from the 539 points of PISA 2009 to 490 points, to below the OECD average.

Raf Feys said...

View of Finnish teachers versus view of Pasi Sahlberg
Oxford- Prof. Jennifer Chung ( AN INVESTIGATION OF REASONS FOR FINLAND’S SUCCESS IN PISA (University of Oxford 2008).
“Many of the teachers mentioned the converse of the great strength of Finnish education (= de grote aandacht voor kinderen met leerproblemen) as the great weakness. Jukka S. (BM) believes that school does not provide enough challenges for intelligent students: “I think my only concern is that we give lots of support to those pupils who are underachievers, and we don’t give that much to the brightest pupils. I find it a problem, since I think, for the future of a whole nation, those pupils who are really the stars should be supported, given some more challenges, given some more difficulty in their exercises and so on. To not just spend their time here but to make some effort and have the idea to become something, no matter what field you are choosing, you must not only be talented like they are, but work hard. That is needed. “

Raf Feys said...

Finnish teachers about Sahlberg-nonsense:

*@Popo: I'm not complaining about the education system, but this article just doesn't match with any of my experiences

*@Alecaldi: What a bunch of crap. As a Fin with 18 years in the school system, now M.Sc Tech, I can't recognize most of the stuff.And to remind you, there is no High school in any Scandinavian countries. It's more like a pre-college for 3 years if you choose to go academic.

*AM : This article is just unbelievable propaganda and it would be very interesting to know who fed you all this rubbish. Where are these so-called "facts" been taken from? Several of them are simply not true! Finnish teachers are not selected from the top 10% of graduates. All pupils take exams and have homework. All children are certainly not taught in the same classrooms. And what in the world is this "mandatory standardized test which is taken when children are 16"?! I've never heard of it and I work as a teacher in Finland. And excuse me...according to these "facts" I only spend four hours per day in the classroom?! That is so not true!

*DI: This article explains why there have been so many Nobel prizes per capita in Finland, and why Finnish technology companies like Nokia are currently destroying the competition, and why Finland leads the pack on biotech.

*PM I went through the Finnish education system so I can correct a few "facts". 1. We start to get homework since the first grade. Of course not that much in the beginning, but there definitely is homework. 2. We definitely are measured since grade one (=eerste leerjaar) at school.3. All kids are taught in the same classroom except when a kid is having difficulties with learning, and then he/she can go to a special teacher's little class to be taught. 4. Teachers spend way more than 4 hours a day in a classroom, except maybe when his/her class is the first or second grade and their days are shorter. But I remember being 10 and had 7-8 hour days and my teacher was there all the time.5.. Although teachers are highly regarded, they are not regarded as highly as doctors and lawyers. Especially if you teach Swedish in Junior High School.